Donner Circle Looper Review
When I sat down to write this Donner Circle Looper Review I thought to myself, “A looping pedal a 1/4 of the price of my last purchase, how can Donner possibly do this”?
After trying many of the major brand loopers, such as TC Electronics, BOSS, and Singular Sound I just felt frustrated. Three years later and I still don’t have a reliable or easy to use looping pedal in my board, whats going on ? After all, what I am doing is not really that complex in either a live situation or jamming at home.
Intrigued by the price I took a look at some reviews on the Donner Website and Amazon. It was then I started to get more curious about the reputation of this pedal.
I had been approached by Donner to take it for a test drive and thought I need a looping pedal, let’s see how this pedal effects my mental health 🙂
After all TC Electronics had me down in the torture chamber with their Ditto X4 for 2 years ( I will get to that later in article ) Why not take the Donner circle looper for a spin, so I did
In this article I am going to take you through all the aspects of this pedal from unboxing to breaking down how it works.
Watch The Video Below for full demonstrations.
So let’s dig in …
Split Down The Middle
When you look at the Donna circle looper, you have to think of it with a line down the middle.
The left hand side is the looping stuff and the right hand side is all the rhythm section stuff where the drum machine lives.
The 3 functions on the left hand side of the pedal :
Memory where loops live
Level volume of loop
Fade out create a fade out at the end of a song.
To access or change modes you just click the looper dial – when you let go you can then adjust the settings of that mode by rotating dial. You can see this reflected on the LCD screen. All very intuitive and easy to follow.
Let’s start with the looping function, this is the top level light called memory.
You get 40 memory slots which can each record up to 4 minutes. Just find a slot that hasn’t got anything on it already and your right to go.
After you have recorded a loop or idea the slot is labeled as recorded:
so you clearly know if anything is living on that particular slot
All up 160 minutes memory – not bad really
LEVEL – Simply adjusts the level of loop playback.
THE LCD SCREEN
You’ll see very quickly that when looping begins a circle icon appears that goes round with the length of time used. You can actually see where you are, not sure that’s super useful as you gotta rely on your ears – but it looks cool.
You do have an overdub mode if you want to keep adding parts and go crazy or you can simply hit the stop button and the loop will continue playing. Its easy to clear out what you did by holding down the clear button. Again super simple and intuitive.
Complete Video Review
I noticed no loss of quality of the sound once I activated the loop. Like any looper if you start dubbing multiple times quality will drop on most loopers. The drum machine has 100 different beats from 10 genres to choose from with various time signatures, and an additional 10 metronome beats. My only gripe with the drum machine was there could of been more 3/4 beats to choose from there was one in Pop and one in Fusion but I didn’t see a country which would have been a nice addition.
The metronome like the rest of the pedal was really easy to operate. I liked the stick sound of the metronome it didnt have a annoying beeping sound like a lot of other digital metronomes.
The pedal is sturdy, knobs feel good, and the clicking foot pedals are easy to use. I certainly don’t notice anything worrying and seems like a really solid build. I think the two button controls are worlds easier to use than a single button looper however I haven’t tried any of the Donner Single Button Looper’s.
The added LED display is a nice touch and I would rather see this then the blinking light on most pedals.
Other Pedals I Tried 3 - 5 Times The Price
Live With A Looper - The Tangled Souls
I wondered whether I should really be comparing looping pedals 3-5 the price of the Donna Circle Looper and if that’s really a fair comparison. However I think if there’s an option that’s easier to operate and cheaper this pedal is worth considering
4 would be the maximum amount of dubs noodling about at home
For me its all about simplicity, and if a pedal that’s a 1/4 of the price brings me the same satisfaction and fun I thinks its worth mentioning why. I’m going to let my readers and students at learn guitar cafe know.
I WILL ADMIT I HATE USER MANUALS!
Large instruction manuals and over complicated functionality really bores me, especially when it comes to technology. Every hour I spend with my head stuck in a manual is an hour I’m not playing my guitar!
You can see from my demonstrations that I don’t do a lot of complicating looping so I don’t expect that much. I like to keep it pretty simple and just get down to the business of playing the guitar. I love technology but I must admit I get frustrated with it pretty quickly if it doesn’t go my way.
This Circle Looper Pedal Just Works Out Of The Box
So I have to say I was pretty knocked out after putting the Donner Circle Looper Pedal to the test. The simplicity of this pedal was the real selling point for me and it did exactly what I wanted it to do without any fuss. While the price is very competitive I don’t think your are making a compromise on quality. Let’s just say It’s a looper at a discount price, but in my opinion it’s not a discount looper.
Who Is This Pedal For ?
As a practice tool this pedal is perfect and I would certainly recommend it to anyone getting into the world of looping. Lot’s of fun to be had here with jamming and improvising. The fact that the pedal has a looper, a drum machine and a metronome for around $120US is pretty darn cool. I spent $80 on a metronome last year so there is real value in this pedal.
Just remember if your a beginner you need to think about your timing when it comes to looping – play something simple first and try looping that – build your confidence first. In my mind its perfect for beginners because it has the metronome and drum machine. Focus on your timing and the looping will follow.
Soloist / Duo’s
If your a Soloist or play in a Duo like myself this pedal may satisfy your needs in a live situation. If your wanting to add vocals to the loop chain and use other instruments you may have to think this through.
I think the two button controls are worlds easier to use than a single button looper however I haven’t tried any of the Donner Single Button Looper’s. The added LED display is a nice touch and I woudl rather see this then the blinking light on most pedals.
Sure I don’t do a lot of really complex looping and in my mind too many overdubs can get messy. Music needs space but that’s just my opinion
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